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Cancer Res. 1992 Mar 1;52(5):1336-41.

Localization of messenger RNA for Mr 72,000 and 92,000 type IV collagenases in human skin cancers by in situ hybridization.

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  • 1Finsen Laboratory, Copenhagen, Denmark.


We have examined the expression of 2 type IV collagen degrading enzymes (Mr 72,000 and 92,000 type IV collagenases) in human skin cancer by in situ hybridization. In all cases of infiltrating carcinomas of squamous cell (9 of 9) and basal cell (5 of 5) types, messenger RNA for the Mr 72,000 type IV collagenase was present in numerous fibroblasts. These were especially abundant in the stroma adjacent to the invasive tumor nodules. Malignant cells were negative for mRNA for the Mr 72,000 enzyme in all cases as were all other epithelial as well as endothelial cells. mRNA for the Mr 92,000 type IV collagenase was present in all 9 squamous cell and in 3 of the 5 basal cell carcinomas. In all these cases, a subpopulation of tissue macrophages was found to be positive, while malignant cells showed a signal for Mr 92,000 type IV collagenase in 6 of the squamous cell carcinomas but in none of the basal cell carcinomas. In all cases, the signal for this mRNA was confined to cells located at the tumoral/stromal interface or in the close vicinity of tumor nodules. No mRNA for any of the 2 collagenases was detected in 3 biopsies of normal skin. In vitro studies have indicated that collagenases are involved in the degradation of the extracellular matrix during cancer invasion. The present findings are consistent with such a role of the Mr 72,000 and 92,000 type IV collagenases in squamous and basal cell carcinomas in situ. The findings also demonstrate that degradative enzymes are not necessarily produced by the malignant cells themselves but may be generated by induction or recruitment of nonmalignant stromal cells.

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